All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Group Two
Antrim v Galway
Saturday, 4pm, Dunloy
By Shaun Casey
THE step up from Intermediate to Senior has been big for Antrim, but centre half forward Maedhbh Laverty has been relishing the challenge.
“It’s definitely a big step up but something to be excited about because at the end of the day, the teams we’re playing against are the ones that you looked up to growing up.
“I’ve noticed a big step up in pace, intensity, the margin for error is so small. If you’re not winning your first touch, there’s three players around you tackling you.”
Elaine Dowds’ side lost out to Kilkenny in their most recent outing but hope to learn from competing against the top teams as they face another in Galway this weekend.
“That game against Kilkenny was a real good game, our work rate was so good, and I actually think we had more to give in the end. There was six in it in the end, but it could have been closer.
“One of the big things I think coming up from Intermediate to play Senior is the decision making and the time you get on the ball, that’s something that we’ve noticed that we need to work on, and we have been, especially after playing against Kilkenny.
“The decision making was probably one of the things we identified after looking at videos, so we’ve been doing stuff in training to be more prepared for that going into the next few games.
“Galway are one of the teams that are unbeaten as well and Galway are one of those big three so it’s definitely going to be a big test and we have learned a lot from Kilkenny so hopefully we can bring that into the Galway game.”
The Saffrons will have the joys of playing in front of a home crowd, which mentally and physically can help them believes Laverty. “One of our away games was Offaly and then Down, so it wasn’t too far, we actually got the further teams like Galway and Kilkenny at home.
“It brings a big boost physically; you’re not sitting on the bus for four or five hours and you get to sleep in your own bed and have your usual routine. Even the mental side of it, having your friends and family there and supporters there really does give the team a big boost.
“Having a home game, trying to promote Camogie in Antrim, it’s good for younger girls to see games like that and hopefully that will inspire them to keep at it.”
This season was all about proving that Antrim belong in the top tier and Laverty believes her side have done that with their early performances.
“Initially the goal was to compete at Senior and show that’s where we want to be and we’re capable of playing the likes of Kilkenny, which I think we did, Offaly, we beat them. I think we have reached that goal of showing that we’re where we should be.
“Now it’s more about taking it one game at a time and putting in a performance that we’re proud of that reflects the work that the players, the managers, everyone’s put in this year.”